First, she won us over with her best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and then a popular Netflix series, encouraging families to eliminate clutter from their homes. Now, the world-renowned organizing expert Marie Kondo is back with Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life — a new book that extends her novel KonMari Method of organizing items by category rather than specific rooms to the office space. Plus, she's released a collection of minimalist office supplies, ranging from notebooks to desk organizers, to amp up the style in your workspace.
Kondo's book, which is co-written with organizational psychologist Scott Sonenshein, explores how to "spark joy in your career" by keeping a tidy office, taking control of your digital data, managing your time well, and making the commitment to only maintain professional relationships that are valuable to you. When all of these areas are handled with the KonMari Method in mind, Kondo believes you'll prove to be more productive and happy with your work.
Here, Kondo tells us about what readers can take away from Joy at Work, even when we're working at home.
What is your view on "sparking joy at work"?
When we ask ourself what sparks joy, we reconnect with our inner self and discover what’s really important to us. This approach can be applied to all aspects of life – from your home to your career.
My co-author Scott Sonenshein and I wrote Joy at Work to offer tips and tools for having a joy-sparking career. Tidying the workspace – as well as our tasks, meetings, email, and the like – can help us to become more organized, achieve better results and find joy on the job.
Now that most people are working from home considering the coronavirus outbreak, what's your advice on setting up a home office?
No matter where you work, it’s important to create an environment that helps you focus. If you don’t have a home office, identify the items that are crucial to getting your work done and designate a clear spot for them – a box or portable carrier will do. When it’s time to work, move all unrelated items off of your workspace and add one thing that sparks joy when you look at it – I always keep a crystal or small vase of fresh flowers on my desk. I also suggest doing something that marks the start of your work day. I strike a tuning fork and diffuse essential oils to signal to my body that I’m switching gears.
Are there easy organizing tips that can have a lasting impact and lead to more productivity?
The KonMari Method™ is about choosing what to keep in life based on whether or not it sparks joy – and then giving each of those items a designated spot in your home. It’s simple but life-changing! Once you do this, maintaining your workspace or desk is no different from anywhere else in the home.
Paper and books are two problem areas in offices. How do you tackle these?
When it comes to papers, my advice is to dispose of anything that doesn’t fall into three categories: currently in use; needed for a limited period of time; or must be kept indefinitely.
I recommend storing most items, including papers, vertically for two reasons. First, if you stack things, you end up with what seems to be inexhaustible storage space, which makes it harder to notice how much you’ve accumulated. Second, things at the bottom of a pile essentially disappear – they recede out of our awareness and we put off dealing with them.
The true purpose of a book is to be read. When deciding which books to keep, forget about whether you’ll read them again or if you’ve mastered the information inside. Take each book in your hand and decide whether it moves you or not. Keep only those books that will make you happy just to see on your shelves – the ones you really love. When it comes to how many books you should keep, there’s no fixed number. The amount that feels right will differ for each individual.
Do you have a favorite way to organize the top of your desk?
I prefer to keep the top of my desk as clear as possible, but if storing items on your desk works for you, that's perfectly fine! I do like to keep a few joy-sparking objects on my desk – usually a small vase of flowers, a crystal and my zen egg.
What's the best tactic for handling an increase in emails and video calls?
Before you begin working, take a moment to center yourself. I strike a tuning fork to purify the air around me, a practice that helps me to focus and feel calm. I also diffuse an essential oil or spritz a mist– such as peppermint – that is stimulating and signals the start of my work day. These are simple ways to care for yourself during a stressful day with an overwhelming amount of messages and calls.
For emails, I recommend setting aside time at the beginning and end of each day to go through them, rather than checking constantly throughout the day. When it comes to tidying your meetings – virtual or otherwise – prioritize those invitations that are essential to getting your job done and ensuring a successful future. It’s okay to say no – politely – to calls and meetings you’re not strictly needed at.
What are some pointers on making decisions and maintaining a solid network?
When it comes to your decisions, organize them into three categories: low, medium, and high-stakes. Many low-stakes decisions can be automated – President Obama famously only wore gray or blue suits to cut down on the number of decisions he had to make in a day! Sort through your medium and high-stakes decisions and isolate those that are critical for the work you do. Prioritize those, and – as much as possible – automate or delegate the rest.
An effective network doesn’t have to be large. Make your network a source of joy – full of people you like spending time with, who care about your development and success, and with whom you’re comfortable seeking guidance from and giving advice to.
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